Escape From Dead City begins at a London hospital, where the story abruptly introduces us to an infection that turns its victims into the undead. We meet Pauline and Gordon, two doctors who are in a relationship with one another. When the military arrives at the hospital to deal with the onslaught of the undead after the two doctors have already dealt with one of the undead, it becomes readily apparent that they need to escape the hospital. Not soon after they realize that they better flee the city as well, because it’s clear that the trouble isn’t localized to their area, but is everywhere. The dead are rising up and overwhelming the living in uncountable numbers.
At the same time, Pauline’s sister, Margot, and her boyfriend Arthur are coming to the same conclusion from their apartment in the city. After communicating with one another, the two sisters agree to meet and get out before the whole city is overwhelmed by the undead. Arthur, who is a train engineer, convinces the other three to make their way to the train station, where he can get them all aboard one of the last trains out of the city. Little do they know that the military have commandeered the station and the specific train Arthur has in mind for their escape. Soon, the quartet discover that the train might grant them a form of escape from London, but will take them on a journey with both the military and scientists doing everything in their power to put an end to the plague that threatens to engulf the entire world.
Escape From Dead City doesn’t necessarily introduce its audience to anything new in the zombie genre. The undead are fairly traditional and the key characters include a scientist who is passionate about finding a cure and a military man who will do whatever it takes to maintain control over those under his supervision. What the tale does bring to the table that is somewhat unique is the rapid-fire pace with which it moves. The story takes place within the first 24 hours of infection. There is little time for the reader to pause and reflect as the two sisters and the rest of the cast of characters move from one challenging situation to the next at a breakneck pace.
The story offers up plenty of entertainment, gore, and action, though the characters are perhaps what I would call a bit lean. This just means that we aren’t given a tremendous amount of depth with them-there isn’t enough time for us to get to know them all too well. Not necessarily a major drawback, since the focus in this tale is on the action and a race against time. I did feel that Colonel Page, the hard-nosed commander of the squad of soldiers responsible for the safety of the scientists, was the most interesting and detailed character of the lot. He was rough but pragmatic, with limited time to deal with any BS that might interfere with him getting the job done. The dialog is a bit stiff at times, with some turns of phrase being used a bit repetitively (‘soldier man’ was one that felt a bit overused by several of the characters), but overall the pacing is smooth with very few disruptions to the flow of the tale. With a planned sequel, the author has the opportunity to delve deeper into each of the surviving characters, which will give me more reason to root for or against their survival as they race to both stay alive and find a cure for the plague that has been unleashed on the world.